Prelude—To California

Who saw thy sunrise, Woman of the West?
For, Empress of the lands of dying day,
With all time's sunsets buried in thy breast,
Thou hadst such dawn as can not pass away:
To sing of that fair hour is there not one,
O Mistress of the mansions of the sun?
Not all unwarranted I come this day
Which sees far-sundered strands
In their united waters joining hands,
And cheek to cheek Atlantic to Pacific lay.
I of a State that has for tide
The coming and the going of the corn,
Some borrowings of pride
Bring to this jocund morn.
When down thy washen flanks the daylight broke
Through ancient night, a newer life and law,
Barefooted men in brown—
And earlier the blackgown—
The prómise of a day that would not set
For thee bespoke,
And their life saw—
A glory that the world can not forget—
The flowering and the fruitage of a toil
Whose harvest was of hearts not less than wine and oil.
O Feet, that tread the purple grapes of day
Until that wine
Thy seas a thousand leagues incarnadine;
Thou that hast kept, how many ages old,
The tollgates of the sun, and toll and gate are gold;
Arms that thou holdest, prophet-like, on high
Till in thy daily sky
A victory for the sun is writ in conquest flame,—
Seek not my passing name
But know
That even as those sons of long ago,
Thine earliest-born, the vanward of thy sires,
Who found and kept thy wilderness a rose,
Far-blushing to Sierra's silvering snows,—
That so am I,
Moulded and quickened by the selfsame fires,
Minstrel and pilgrim of the sky,
Whose singing were the night winds in the grass
Which no one heeds,
Except it were of more than mortal deeds,
And memories that shall not pass,
And men that can not die.
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